Harney County Rockhounding Sites – Eastern Oregon

Mann Lake - Alvord Desert

 




The Harney County rockhounding sites are well known among rock and mineral collectors. The most of this areas are located on the public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service. There are privately owned mines, open to the public for rockhounding for fees. Two opal mines, just across Oregon-Nevada border and approximately 60 miles of Fields, are listed here as well.

 Alvord Desert - East Side of Steens Mountains

Rocks & Minerals: Thunderegg, Geodes, Petrified Wood, Jasper, and Agate
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, and shovels
County: Harney
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Maintained gravel road. Seasonal road closure
Locations & GPS: Mann Lake (42.7578,-118.4399), Pike Creek (42.575, -118.5297), and Borax Lake (42.3278, -118.6039)

From Burns, travel 65 miles southeast on OR-78 to Folly Farm Road. Turn right onto the Folly Farm Road (East Steens Road) and follow 2.5 miles, then continue 22 miles to Mann Lake (the road is partially gravel). Pike Creek is located 15 miles south of Mann Lake. Borax Lake is 22.8 miles south of Pike Creek.

Alvord Desert, east of the Steens Mountain, is not a favorite of rockhounds. But you still have an opportunity to find some thundereggs, geodes, petrified wood, jasper, and agates.



Harney Lake - Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Rocks & Minerals: Agate, Oolitic Agates, Jasper, Petrified Wood
Tools: Surface collecting only on the refuge land
County: Harney
Managed: US Fish and Wildlife Service and BLM
Road Access: The most roads are ok for any vehicles
GPS: 43.2498, -118.988

From Burns, take Highway 205 and travel to the milepost 24. Take S Harney Lake Road west and drive about 1.6 miles to the collecting area. Check other sites along the road. There are a few sites along Harney Lake. Near milepost 24 turn west onto S Harney Lake Road.

Look for the piles of alluvial gravels. This is a great area to find naturally-polished agates, jasper, and petrified wood. Oolitic agates, known as Fish Egg Agate, can be found on the top of the gravel piles.



Oregon Rockhounding Map

Oregon Rockhounding Map




Stinkingwater Creek - near Juntura

Rocks & Minerals: Petrified Wood, Agate, Jasper, Leaf and Fish Fossils
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, and shovels
County: Harney
Managed: Private with the public access
Road Access: A high-clearance vehicle is recommended
GPS coordinates: 43.6663, -118.4672

Fron Burns and Juntura the site is accessed by Highway 20. Between mileposts 167 and 168, turn south onto the gravel Stinkingwater Creek Road and follow 6.3 miles to a dirt road heading west. Turn right onto the dirt road and drive 1 mile, then turn left and go next 0.4 miles to the Clear Creek near the base of the hill.

The petrified forest of the Stinkingwater Creek Basin provides opportunities to collect gorgeous petrified and fossiled wood materials, mostly from oak trees. Also, agate including plume, jasper, leaf and fish fossils can be found.



Warm Springs Reservoir - near Juntura

Rocks & Minerals: Agate, Jasper, Petrified Wood
Tools: Sharp pointed pick, shovel
County: Harney, Malheur
Managed: BLM
Road Access:  A high-clearance vehicle is recommended
GPS: 43.6286, -118.2644

Travel from Burns or Juntura via Highway 20 to Warm Springs Road (between milepost 171 and 172). Turn south onto the road and go to the reservoir, roughly 13 miles.

Warm Springs Reservoir produces great dendritic, moss and plume agates, jasper, and petrified wood. The productive rockhounding sites are located on the western shore of the reservoir.

The best time to collect minerals is the end of summer and during fall when the water level is low. Explore the west and south shores along the Warm Springs and Reservoir Roads. There are a few good spots along the Juntura-Riverside Road, east side of the reservoir.



Royal Peacock Opal Mine - Virgin Valley, Sheldon National Antelope Refuge, Nevada

Rocks & Minerals: Opal
Tools: Sharp pointed pick, shovel
Managed: Private mine is open to the public for fees
Road Access: Maintained gravel road. Seasonal road closure.
GPS: 41.4711, -119.559
Address: 10 Virgin Valley Rd., Denio, NV 89404
Phone: 775-941-0374
Email: autumn@royalpeacock.com

Royal Peacock Opal Mine offers fee digging from mid-May to mid-October, Friday through Monday.

Kokopelli Opals Mine - Virgin Valley, Sheldon National Antelope Refuge, Nevada

Rocks & Minerals: Opal
Tools: Sharp pointed pick, shovel
Managed: Private mine is open to the public for fees
Road Access: Maintained gravel road. Seasonal road closure.
GPS: 41.8302, -119.072
Phone: 530-533-3359
Email: kokopelliopals@yahoo.com

Kokopelli Opals Mine offers fee digging from mid-May to mid-October, Friday through Monday.


Marli B. Miller. Roadside Geology of Oregon. 2014. Mountain Press Publishing Company Missoula, Montana.
William A. Kappele. Rockhounding Nevada: A Guide to the State's Best Rockhounding Sites. 2010. A Falcon Guide.
Lars Johnson. Rockhounding Oregon: A Guide to the State's Best Rockhounding Sites (Rockhounding Series). 2014. A Falcon Guide.
William A. Kappele. Rockhounding Nevada: A Guide To The State's Best Rockhounding Sites (Rockhounding Series). 2011. A Falcon Guide.
Dan R. Lynch, Bob Lynch. Rocks & Minerals of Washington and Oregon: A Field Guide to the Evergreen and Beaver States (Rocks & Minerals Identification Guides). 2012.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *